LyndaInOregon's 2023 Yarns #3

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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LyndaInOregon's 2023 Yarns #3

1LyndaInOregon
Ago 28, 3:16 pm

Starting a new thread, same topic.

2FAMeulstee
Ago 28, 6:43 pm

Happy new thread, Lynda!

3PaulCranswick
Ago 28, 7:54 pm

Happy new thread, Lynda. Great to see you chugging along nicely this year on your thread. xx

4figsfromthistle
Ago 28, 8:08 pm

Happy new one!

5PlatinumWarlock
Ago 29, 12:27 pm

Happy new thread, Lynda!

6LyndaInOregon
Set 7, 11:00 pm

#96 - Scorched, Cam Torrens
Beta read

7LyndaInOregon
Set 10, 7:58 pm

#97 - The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole, Stephanie Doyon
2.5 stars

Almost DNF'd this several times. The story of a boyhood rivalry that extends through the rest of their lives (and beyond) in a small midwestern town never really takes off.

8LyndaInOregon
Set 11, 7:40 pm

#98 - One of Us Is Gone, Shauntel Anette
2.5 stars - LTER

This one just never grabbed me, possibly because I'm about as far from the main characters demographically as it's possible to be. Designed to be a mystery novel about the disappearance of a young college woman, there's way too much padding here and a cripplingly slow pace. If you're really interested, the full review is here.

9figsfromthistle
Set 11, 7:43 pm

>7 LyndaInOregon: >8 LyndaInOregon: Ouch! Hopefully your next read is much better!

10LyndaInOregon
Set 11, 8:39 pm

>9 figsfromthistle: I know! August was a great month for me, but September is not looking too good so far!

11LyndaInOregon
Set 12, 2:12 pm

12LyndaInOregon
Editado: Set 14, 6:04 pm

#99 - The Joy of Yarn, Marie Greene
5 stars

This one isn't linking in Touchstones, though it does have an ISBN number. It's a new release, however, so eventually may make its way into the database.

It's essentially an organizing method for knitters, crocheters, or other hobbycrafters whose yarn stash is threatening to take over their living space. (Who, me?) Has some interesting ideas, but it lacks the one tip I would need to follow the other instructions -- how to get my hubby out of the house for at least a week in order to take the first step ... remove every single scrap of yarn in the collection and put it out into the open so you can see exactly what you have. (She suggests putting it on top of a bed. ***A*** bed! How about every bed, couch, tabletop, and countertop in the house?)

13LyndaInOregon
Set 15, 11:26 pm

#100 - Anything Goes, Richard S. Wheeler
3 stars

This is an odd and unexpected book for the 100-book milestone. It's set in the mining towns of Montana and Idaho in the late 1890s, and is about a traveling variety show. More character-driven than plot-driven, it looks at the relationships among the entertainers and gives some interesting background on just what it took to keep these bare-bones groups going, especially as the giant Orpheum chain started taking over the industry.

Personal note -- my maternal grandmother traveled briefly in her teens with an itinerant theater group, married my grandfather on the stage after a show. They left the show at the end of the summer of 1923 and settled into "respectability", but I always wished I knew more about that portion of her life!

14LyndaInOregon
Set 17, 11:52 pm

#101 - If That Was Lunch, We've Had It, D.J. Colbert
4 stars - LTER

This was a fun, quick read with lots of laugh-out-loud moments as a couple of young New Zealanders look for ways to "make a squillion dollars" without actually, you know, working for it.

Full review is over here.

15LyndaInOregon
Set 20, 7:52 pm

#102 - Thai Die, Monica Ferris
3 stars

An okay cosy mystery centering around a mysterious piece of antique silk. Part of the "Needlecraft Mystery" series.

16LyndaInOregon
Set 22, 1:12 pm

#103 - If You Tell, Gregg Olsen
4 stars
September selection for my Wish List Challenge

Listed as true crime (which it is) and a tribute to the power of sisterhood, it is more compelling as a study in abnormal psychology. Shelly Knotek's daughters had little defense against their mother's horrific physical abuse, backed up by insidious mind games, but she also abused and manipulated many of the adults around her.

I always wonder, when I read about people like Shelly, how it is that they manage to hone in on and perfect those manipulative skills which are reported time and time again in case studies of sociopaths. I mean, is there a school somewhere? How does a 14-year-old know how to convince a loving grandparent that her equally loving parents are monsters? As an adult, how does she locate the "friends" whose own insecurities make them prime targets for her abuse, and how does she convince the essentially normal people in her life to help carry out her vicious -- even fatal -- abuses?

None of these questions are answered in Olsen's book, but that wasn't the book he wanted to write, so he gets a pass.

17Cam_Torrens
Set 22, 6:49 pm

>6 LyndaInOregon: Which has been incredibly helpful!!!!

18LyndaInOregon
Set 27, 7:01 pm

#104 - The Way I Heard It, Mike Rowe
3.5 stars

Short collection, riffing on the old Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story" concept, enlivened by personal connections between Rowe and the people or events featured. It was a good pick up & put down book for times when you know you'll only have short spans of time to read.

19LyndaInOregon
Out 1, 10:30 pm

#105 - Eugene J. McGillicuddy's Alien Detective Agency, George Allen Miller
3.5 stars
LTER

If you are the kind of reader who needs to have a clear vision of what is happening in a novel, you’re going to want to give this one a pass. The breakneck pace never lets up as the major character, a 23rd-century human on an Earth that is being managed by a Galactic Congress, searches for the possibly mythical site of the very first alien contact with humans.

Miller has created an amazingly complex background, but the reader is never given a moment to really examine it or think about the ramifications. There are a couple of really funny ideas (a sentient parking meter?) and brilliantly original ideas, but it just verges on overload.

20LyndaInOregon
Out 5, 4:19 pm

Just now getting around to the September report, and I can see why it almost got overlooked. I read 10 books, but nothing was really memorable.

Marie Greene's The Joy of Yarn gets top honors, but it's not going to be of much interest to folks who don't indulge in some kind of needlecraft hobby.

I also did a Beta read of Cam Torrens' upcoming Scorched, which isn't going to show up in the Touchstones. Won't review that, since it wasn't in final form, except to say that he's continuing to explore possibilities within the suspense/adventure genre.

Others, more or less in descending order, included
- If That Was Lunch, We've Had It, an LTER by David Colbert
- If You Tell, by Gregg Olsen
- The Way I Heard It, by Mike Rowe
- Eugene J. McGillicuddy's Alien Detective Agency, an LTER by George Allen Miller
- Anything Goes, by Richard W. Wheeler
- Thai Die, by Monica Wheeler
- The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole, by Stephanie Doyon
- One of Us Is Missing, an LTER by Shauntel Anette

21LyndaInOregon
Out 6, 7:38 pm

#106 - The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar
3.5 stars

For some reason, I was expecting a light fantasy -- boy, was I wrong. It's a dark fantasy, a morality tale, and an extended metaphor on desiring that which will ultimately destroy us unless we have the strength to set it free.

Thanks to Whisper1 for sending this to me. I will be chewing on its many meanings for a while.

22LyndaInOregon
Out 8, 5:57 pm

#107 - Boleyn Time, by Deborah Cohen
2.5 stars
LTER

This one just didn't work for me, as noted in my full review, here.

Anne Boleyn as a brilliant apprentice to Leonardo da Vinci rings about as true as Nuclear Physicist Barbie, and even the original characters peopling the modern portions of the novel don't have much depth. Maybe if I'd read "Book One" of this two-novel mini-series, I'd have understood their motivations, but I have this weird notion that a book -- even as part of a series -- really ought to be able to stand on its own.

23LyndaInOregon
Out 11, 6:38 pm

#108 - Dreaming Southern, by Linda Bruckheimer
3.5 stars

The first part of this book was great fun, as a somewhat scatterbrained Kentucky housewife sets off to drive her four kids and remaining worldly possessions to California to join her husband. Lila Mae's tendency to get sidetracked leads them into various adventures along a route that winds through Alabama, Louisiana, and Minnesota, among other places not normally appearing on a Kentucky-to-California road map. There's a climax, but not really a resolution, and then there's a novella-length epilogue about the character, decades later. Bruckheimer loses points for that distraction.

24LyndaInOregon
Out 15, 8:06 pm

#109 - Thief of Time, by Terry Pratchett
3.5 stars

As we wind up the Discworld group read for this year, I've come to the realization that I really prefer the pun-filled and off-the-wall humor of the Unseen University subseries and the social commentary of the novels like Moving Pictures and Pyramids.

I'm glad I did the group read, and will repeat it next year, when it looks at the Witches subseries, but left to my own devices, the Discworld re-reads I choose will always be the earlier ones.

25LyndaInOregon
Out 17, 3:47 pm

#110 - The Journal of Mortifying Moments, Robyn Harding
2.5 stars
October Wish List Challenge Book

~meh. Another one whose reason for being on my wish-list remains a mystery after it's been read. I'm really not the target audience for chick-lit, and this one fits firmly into that niche, unspooling the tale of a young woman who's been a doormat to her romantic partners all her life who finally grows a backbone. Predictable, trite, and just not that entertaining.

26LyndaInOregon
Out 25, 9:52 pm

#110 - J. Robert Oppenheimer, Peter Goodchild
4 stars

This biography predates Kai Bird's American Prometheusby 40 years but covers much of the same ground. It's a balanced and well-done biography of a complex man who was both lauded and excoriated by a country at war -- first on the battlefields of Europe and Japan, and later on the floor of the U.S. Senate as the Red Scare of the the early Cold War destroyed countless lives and careers.

27LyndaInOregon
Out 28, 6:58 pm

#111 - Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann

This was a re-read for me, which I felt compelled to make after seeing (and being largely disappointed by) the recent film based on it. It definitely holds up on the second reading.

I don't see any reason to change my original review, reprinted here because I can't seem to make the link work.

In this astonishing and heartbreaking work, Grann traces the true story of a series of murders committed in Oklahoma early in the 20th century. Largely ignored at the time by the local white power structure, the crimes only began to be seriously investigated when J. Edgar Hoover sought to utilize them in developing the agency ultimately known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

By the end of the 19th century, the Osage Indian tribe had been largely confined to a reservation in northeast Oklahoma. It seemed almost a grand joke of fate when vast reservoirs of oil were discovered under this previously "worthless" property, and members of the Osage Nation became, per capita, the richest people on earth. Newly-acquired wealth, however, seems to bring out the worst kinds of predators, and the official government stance that the Osage were, by definition, incapable of managing their own affairs, exacerbated the situation. As members of the white power structure were assigned as guardians to the Osage, many estates were systematically drained through fraudulent means. That wasn't enough, however, for the boundless greed of the swindlers, who coveted ownership of the "headright" itself. But headrights, unlike land, couldn't be sold. They could only be passed through inheritance.

This made many Osage, who had married whites, prime targets for murder. Once the rights passed to a spouse, or to minor mixed-blood children, there was a clear path to headrights passing into non-Indian hands.

And that's just what happened -- beginning perhaps as early as the 19-teens and extended into the 1930s, as many as 600 Osage were murdered or died under suspicious circumstances. Local law enforcement simply looked the other way or enlisted county coroners and Indian Agents to help cover up the murders.

Grann concentrates on one particular family, that of Mollie Burkhart, whose first husband, mother, and three sisters all died -- by gunshot, by poison, by suspicious and vague "wasting illness". When the acknowledged death count around Mollie's family and friends reached 24, the killings finally drew the attention of the nascent FBI. The subsequent investigation and series of trials forms a large part of the second half of the book.

The story does not end with the incarceration of the men who preyed on Mollie Burkhart. Grann goes on to investigate old records and family histories handed down to modern-day Osage men and women, to find a truly stunning pattern of crime and abuse.

Fascinating, chilling read.

28LyndaInOregon
Nov 4, 9:06 pm

#112 - The Magic of Ordinary Days, Ann Howard Creel
3 stars

~meh~

Not a bad book, but not a very good one. Whoever wrote the bacover blurb comparing it to Kent Haruf's Plainsong needs to go back and reread the Haruf.

Because the story is told in flashback, there's not much question as to what decision the main character will make about her arranged marriage. Mostly the book deals with "the Home Front" during WWII and her unexpected friendship with two young Japanese-American girls interned at Granada, Colorado.

I really wish I could find a good read. It's been a long spell of so-so books.

29LyndaInOregon
Nov 10, 5:02 pm

#113 - All Wound Up, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
5 stars

As a knitter, I always appreciate Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books. This early collection of her blogs (published 2011) is no exception.

Knitters will identify with swatches that lie, unfortunate matches between pattern and yarn, random mathematical oddities (such as the inability to count up to two), patterns with land mines embedded in them, and other hazards of the hobby.

Non-knitters will have to satisfy themselves with domestic humor (how replacing a washing machine essentially led to the deconstruction of a large portion of her house), a break-up letter written to an inanimate object, musings on family life, and how even the dorkiest kid in high school can eventually end up sitting at "the cool table".

This one goes into the permanent library.

30LyndaInOregon
Nov 13, 2:12 pm

#114 - Who to Believe, Edwin Hill
3.5 stars
LTER

The answer is "none of the above". The biggest problem with Hill's untangling of the secrets, lies, and betrayals uncovered by the murder of a woman in a small seacoast town is that everybody lies to pretty much everybody else, and it's hard to find anyone to root for.

Full review is over here, if you're interested.

31LyndaInOregon
Nov 15, 12:03 pm

#115 - Fierce Creatures, Iain Johnstone
3 stars

This novelization of the 90s movie starring John Cleese mostly made me want to track down the movie. There are a few grins, but they do require (at least for me) the ability to mentally see the action in many of the scenes.

32alcottacre
Nov 15, 12:10 pm

I have not visited your thread before, Lynda, and thought I should rectify that.

>27 LyndaInOregon: I completely agree with your assessment of the book as a "Fascinating, chilling read."

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

33LyndaInOregon
Nov 15, 5:23 pm

>32 alcottacre: Hello, alcottacre!

I can't remember how to do the "compare libraries" thingie, but looking at your top 250 list, I can see we have a fair amount of overlap! Hope you'll drop by from time to time.

34LyndaInOregon
Nov 17, 10:30 pm

#116 - The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
3 stars

Nicely-written fantasy about how every choice we makes opens up a different future, and follows a young woman who is offered the chance to follow them.

35LyndaInOregon
Nov 20, 9:44 pm

#117 - The Cat Sitter's Cradle, John & Blaize Clement
3.5 stars

Fun cozy mystery in the "Cat Sitter" series. This time, Dixie is dealing with a dead body in a swimming pool and an apparent undocumented alien who just gave birth in a local park.

36alcottacre
Nov 24, 10:58 am

>33 LyndaInOregon: Well, I am dropping by again :) I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you celebrate the day.

>34 LyndaInOregon: Dodging that BB as I have already read that one!

>35 LyndaInOregon: I am not familiar with the "Cat Sitter" series. I will have to check it out!

37LyndaInOregon
Nov 24, 12:24 pm

Hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday had a wonderful day.

I passed the baton (the turkey baster?) to my daughter a couple of years ago, and we had a lovely time there with three generations present. (Next year, there will be four....) Came home well supplied with left-overs.

Does anybody do mince pies any more? When I was a kid, there was usually "mincemeat pie" at Thanksgiving, though I think it was mostly fruit mixture with little or no meat in it. My grandmother also always made scalloped oysters, which I could never abide and was not at all unhappy to see disappear.

What other only-at-holiday foods from your childhood seem to have disappeared? And do you miss them or not?

38alcottacre
Nov 24, 5:42 pm

>37 LyndaInOregon: What other only-at-holiday foods from your childhood seem to have disappeared? And do you miss them or not?

My grandmother used to make us Belgian cookies at Christmas, wooflets and gullets. I made them a long time ago in order to keep up the tradition, but they are extremely time consuming - each cookie is made individually on an iron - and when I was working, there was just no time for them. Now that I am retired, I just have no desire to pick up the irons again, especially since it is just my husband and myself at home now. We certainly do not need those calories, lol.

39LyndaInOregon
Editado: Nov 25, 4:40 pm

Apparently, the cat decided to help me with my book review when I left the keyboard to eat lunch:



Stay tuned for the revised version!

40LyndaInOregon
Nov 25, 8:36 pm

#118 - The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin
3.5 stars

Despite the cat's "assistance", I did manage to salvage a review. It's here, if you're interested.

This novel about four siblings who, as children, are each told precisely how long they will live, never really tackles free will versus fate, but it's an interesting look at how each one responds differently to the prophecy.

41LyndaInOregon
Nov 27, 5:22 pm

#119 - Baby Catcher, Peggy Vincent
4 stars

Think "All Creatures Great and Small", but with babies, home birth, and midwifery. No, seriously, this was a good read, though probably not of great interest to folks whose only experience with childbirth has been being the child.

Vincent progressed from nursing through midwifery at a time (1970s-90s) when the medical field flirted briefly with licensing midwives as independent practitioners. Her tales of various home births are interspersed with observations about the growth of the craft and its eventual fall from favor, driven largely by insurance issues and the nearly-ubiquitous resistance of Big Med.

42FAMeulstee
Nov 28, 5:53 am

>40 LyndaInOregon: I think I liked the one with the cat's assistance better ;-)

43LyndaInOregon
Nov 28, 4:05 pm

>42 FAMeulstee: The cat's review did have the virtue of originality!

44LyndaInOregon
Nov 29, 3:12 pm

#120 - The Book of Bright Ideas, Sandra Kring
4.5 stars

Using a child narrator for a novel intended for adult readers is a tricky proposition, but Sandra Kring pulls it off with perfection in The Book of Bright Ideas.

Evelyn Peters (aka “Button”) is the heart of this tale of childhood friendship that grows with the intensity that only eight-going-on-nine can muster when an unconventional pair of siblings burst into their staid midwestern town like the fireworks on “Marty Graw”. Freeda Malone is a fiery redhead with the mouth of a sailor, the body of a temptress, and a perhaps too-healthy appetite for male company. Her baby sister Winnalee is an impatient bundle of energy, dubious fashion choices, and big ideas (which she writes down in the titular book). That the two girls should instantly become best of friends is almost inevitable, as Button’s imagination is nurtured by Winnalee’s flights of fancy, and Winnalee finds stability and loving acceptance from Button’s Aunt Verdella.

What’s perhaps less to be expected is that the free-spirited Freeda also opens doors for Verdella and for Button’s mother, Jewel – a process Button sees and describes, without fully understanding what’s at the base of it all. She knows only that, bit by bit, her world is getting just slightly bigger, though sometimes the grown-ups around her make choices she can’t really comprehend.

Kring keeps the point-of-view firmly with Button, even as events unfold in the adult world that will change everything in heartbreaking ways. Most readers will have winkled out the main revelation long before it’s made, but can still feel the pain the knowledge brings to everyone touched by it.

Definitely worth the read.

45PaulCranswick
Nov 29, 3:30 pm

Just stopping by to say hello, Lynda and also a well done for passing 200 posts on your threads in 23.

46LyndaInOregon
Nov 29, 8:22 pm

>45 PaulCranswick: Back at you! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a great reading year in 2024.

47PaulCranswick
Nov 29, 9:54 pm

>46 LyndaInOregon: Thanks Lynda. It has been very interesting to see you chug along nicely with your reading this year.

48LyndaInOregon
Nov 29, 11:04 pm

#121 - Early Morning Rounds, Burnham Holmes
3 stars

Not quite what I expected. It's written for the juvenile market and gives a quick overview of various hospital specialties. Some material is badly outdated, as the book was written in the early 80s.

49LyndaInOregon
Dez 3, 11:31 pm

#122 - The Girl in the Glass, Jeffrey Ford
4 stars

A trio of fake spiritualists in the 1930s have one of their readings spin out of control when what appears to be a very real ghost intrudes on the proceedings. From there, the novel wanders into murder mystery territory and then doubles back onto something even more bizarre.